As far back as I can remember high summer was the season we looked forward to most. It was that lazy time of the year when the warm breezes came down from the north to make the mattress-sized leaves of the terra-oaks dance and rattle against each other, filling the countryside with for miles around with their tinkling song. The air beneath the trees was cool and rich and earthy, even more so in the lengthening shadow of our great oak.
Out in the pastures the sun still beat with a determined intensity throughout most of the day; by the time the sun hit the Caratan plateau on the evening horizon the day was cool. Some mornings the stream and pond would be shrouded in mist but the frogs and croakers stayed comfortable in the summer-warmed waters.
It was easy to lose track of time in those days, it was the kind of season that made you let your guard down – it seemed as if it would never change. I wish it never changed. I wish we were still children traipsing through the meadows, chasing lizards and nibbling on berry sprouts. I wish the hill house was still there with its deep, cool cellars stocked with all variety of nectars, peppers and sweet seasoned meats. But I know now if I return there will be no terra oaks – nearly all having succumbed to the blight. Our herd of horned mastryxes fled with the forest, following the corridors left along the rivers in the hope of finding a home safe from us.
I remember the day we left. It was one of those days that seemed to last in perpetuity, ignoring the fact that the days were twenty-one hours long. The sky was cloudless and the mastryxes grazed naively in the far pasture. The oaks played their songs and the stream gurgled. It was never our land to begin with but it felt like a part of me remained the day we left. When they cut it all down I felt that part die.